In ‘La Habitación,’ One Room Is the Setting for 8 Short Films Telling Mexico’s History

A room acts as a time-traveling capsule that takes us through different eras in Mexico’s past. We are introduced to the people who once inhabited it, and whose lives were touched by life-changing historic events.

La Habitación (Tales of Mexico) is co-production between Poland and Mexico, and the pet project of Mexican producer Edher Campos. It celebrated its world premiere at the Los Cabos International Film Festival last week, a year after participating in the Works in Progress Program also held by the festival. The film is based on a book of short stories by Mexican author, Maria Diego Hernandez. It consists of eight short films that move progressively from the Spanish colonization to present times, each one directed by a different Mexican filmmaker. They include Carlos Carrera and Natalia Berestáin among others.

One of the stories takes place during the time of Chinese migration to Mexico in the late 1800s, another during the Summer Olympics of 1968, and another during the earthquake in Mexico City in 1985. A stand-out element of the film is the production design. Special attention was given to the props and wardrobe of each segment, both providing a visual delight as well as imbuing the scenes with authenticity. Actors wore period dresses and used vintage props in order to enhance their performances. The casting was also exceptional, and features talent from all over the world: Japanese actress Kaori Momoi and French actress Iréne Jacob to name a few.

Here’s what producer Edher Campos had to say about the film at a post-screening Q&A at Los Cabos Film Fest.

Read the rest of our coverage of the Los Cabos International Film Festival here.

On the Universality of the Concept

It’s a story for Mexico, about Mexico, and it tells the story of this house, this room, where we are all portrayed in one way or another. And we’re very happy to have had these eight amazing directors, who were part of this project and took up the challenge. It was made even more interesting by the cast, which is very diverse. Above all this project was made with much love and dedication with the intention of weaving all of the stories to create one which is the metaphor of “the room.”

On How the Film Came to Be

It’s a script originally written by Maria Diego Hernandez. She wrote this book about eight stories that take place in the same room. And from there we had the idea to invite eight different directors instead of having only one. Carlos Carrera directed the first, and Natalia Berestáin directed the last one. It was written as one whole script. Though we wanted to have the different directors we kept the same crew the whole time, from the editing, the music, and sound, etc.

On the Outreach the Film Is Hoping to Achieve

Precisely these types of festivals are a bridge towards that. Through these festivals distributors and exhibitors are able to see it. And yes, that’s another part of the producer’s job: to make sure the film reaches commercial theaters, and that people see it outside the festival circuit. If I may add, I believe this is a special kind of project. You can tell the story in a segmented way, especially for digital platforms outside of the cinemas. So we do want to do a lot of outreach so that we can present the film in schools and events, because I think a film like this shows that there is a memory, and each one of segments represents something about the history of Mexico.